I saw this story last week and have been delayed in posting it, but I think it makes a hopeful counterbalance to the news from Pakistan about the assasination of Salman Taseer by an Islamist radical. News from Egypt suggests that religious tolerance and courage exists in the Arab world, a fact we may sometimes lose sight of in talk of Moslem extremism.

Several media outlets reported that after the New Years Day bomb attack on a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, numerous Muslims turned out on the Coptic Christmas celebrations of 6 January to act as human shields for their Christian neighbours. As one Egyptian woman was quoted as saying, “I know it might not be safe, yet it’s either we live together, or we die together, we are all Egyptians.”

Muslims protect and greet Orthodox Christians leaving the church where Saturday’s bomb blast took place in Alexandria, January 6, 2011, after the Coptic Christmas mass. Egypt tightened security around churches on Thursday, the eve of Coptic Christmas, after a New Year’s Day bombing killed up to 23 and sparked angry protests by Christians demanding more protection from Muslim militants. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Several prominent Egyptians, including journalists, actors, and two sons of President Hosni Mubarak leant their support to the Coptic community. Read more coverage in the Washington Post here.

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